What Is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection refers to a fungal infection caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans.
Candida is common and most people have some living on the skin and inside the body, such as in the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina, and it usually does not present any problems.
When candida grows out of control it can cause infections. While yeast infections tend to refer to candidiasis in the vagina in women, yeast infections can also occur on the skin and result in rashes.
Intertrigo is a rash and irritation of the folds of the skin that may be caused by candida, particularly in warm, moist body areas, such as the underarms, groin, under the breasts, between the legs, behind the ears, between the buttocks, in the finger webs or toe spaces, and under the folds of the skin of the abdomen of people who are obese.
Candida can also cause diaper rash in infants.
What Are Symptoms of Yeast Infection?
Symptoms of a yeast infection rash may include:
- Skin inflammation
- Itchy skin
- Moist skin
- Skin peeling or cracks in the skin
- Red and white skin
- Small superficial papules and pustules
- Secondary bacterial infection that may cause an unpleasant odor
What Causes Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Most people have a small amount of candida on or in the body, but when it grows out of control it can develop into an infection.
Risk factors for developing a yeast infection include:
- A weakened immune system, such as from HIV or cancer treatment or other causes
- Obesity, especially in people who have large skin rolls where fungi can thrive
- Type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes
- Prolonged use of antibiotics
- Genetic tendency to skin disease
- Excessive sweating
- In infants, exposure to sweat, urine, and feces in the diaper area
How Is Yeast Infection Diagnosed?
To diagnose a yeast infection, a doctor will perform a physical exam.
Tests that may be used to help diagnose a yeast infection on the skin include
- Swab for bacterial culture
- Skin scraping to culture fungi
- Skin biopsy if the skin condition is unusual or does not respond to treatment
What Is the Treatment for Yeast Infection?
Treatment for yeast infection rash on the skin usually includes topical antifungal ointments and creams. Many of these are available over-the-counter (OTC), such as:
- Miconazole (Lotrimin AF, Cruex, Desenex, Ting Antifungal)
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF, Anti-Fungal, Cruex, Desenex, Lotrimin AF Ringworm)
- Imidazole (Canesten, Selezen)
Because symptoms of yeast infections on the skin may be similar to many other types of skin conditions, it is important to have a doctor confirm the diagnosis before using over-the-counter treatments.
If the yeast infection is severe or does not clear up with over-the-counter preparations, oral fluconazole (Diflucan) and a hydrocortisone cream may be prescribed.
What Are Complications of Yeast Infection?
A severe yeast infection may enter and infect the bloodstream. This condition is called candidemia or invasive candidiasis.
How Do You Prevent Yeast Infection?
Yeast infection on the skin may be prevented by:
- Proper hygiene
- Washing and drying completely after sweating
- A hair dryer on the cool setting may aid in drying areas such as armpits and under the breasts
- Use of antiperspirants
- Use of skin ointments or pastes to prevent diaper rash
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